Art Crits


Photograph by Jax Robinson

Two of the crucial events of this project are the ‘Art Crits’ to explore how the communication between the scientists and the artists will work and to further the understanding of the collaboration processes. The Art-crit is a model of learning whereby artists present their work to a group in order to gain feedback on how that work is being ‘read’ and ways that they might develop it further. The work ‘crit’ is a shortened version of the word critique (not criticism) and is a process in which people discuss ideas stimulated by an art object, drawing, painting etc. It is comparable to the 19th Century Salon, in which intellectuals, writers, artist and critics formed informal meetings to discuss the context, content, and rational behind an artwork or artefact together with an analysis of its aesthetic properties and visual intent.

The fist Art Crit has now been held using Skype where the collaborative projects were discussed in detail. The artists presented their work to date and this was discussed between the scientists and the artists. For ease of technology (although there are always some hitches) the projects were split into three sessions. The most significant question that arose from the science perspective, when looking at images for textiles, was

“How do people view this as information rather than a beautiful image?”

The artist responded  that art provokes responses and ideas rather than telling people the information. Intrigue encourages further investigation, so that viewers think and work at this information. It allows viewers to consider ‘visual information’ to create questioning, and this combined with the scientific research is especially helpful to visual learners to gain a more enriched experience and deeper understanding of the information holistically.

The sharing of ideas whilst viewing the work to date and the future plans encouraged further  collaborations between the scientists and the stakeholders, for example The Heart of Wales Line (Railway) is developing pollinator gardens at each of its stations, and is being renamed The Bee Line. Three artists are working on projects with The Bee Line, and as a result of the crit a collaboration has developed with Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, the National Botanic Garden of Wales, the Bumblebee Conservation Trust and The Bee Line.

buzzing machine page 3a

The final Art Crit will now take place in June/July.

Introduction Event Day 2

12983417_975073695879421_7067862493686793388_oIMG_6492Now we had all met, Day Two was about sharing ideas and forming collaborative partnerships. The day didn’t go exactly as planned, the enthusiasm of everyone concerned meant that new plans were made that were better than anticipated. Instead of artists and scientists pairing, many wanted to work in more than one group so collective themes were arrived upon. These were:-

  1. Farming and Environment Policy

  2. Multi-model

  3. Pollinators and their Habitats

  4. Preservation (Wild Bees)

  5. Communication

  6. Lines and Journeys

  7. Perception and Motivation

The process of arriving at these themes was fairly easy but required a lot of post-it papers and much discussion.

At the end of the day Professor Mike Christie talked about Policy making and Art, and Dr Natasha De Vere gave a tour of the wonderful National Botanic Garden of Wales, with a focus on the new butterfly house in the making.


Introduction Event Day 1


The 7th and 8th April 2016 was an exciting time for the Cross-pollination project. During these two days the Intro Event took place at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David Alex Campus, Swansea and the National Botanic Garden of Wales.

All the participants came together to share ideas, discuss their wide-ranging research and start the collaboration process, which will culminate next year in exhibitions of art works and a major conference.

This project is developing an inter-disciplinary research network on pollinators. The network comprises of natural, social, economic and arts researchers, artists and policy stakeholders. During the project this network, through collaborative art projects, will explore how science and art research can interact to create new ideas and innovative methodologies for research into pollinators.

Participants of the project include award-winning scientists in the area of pollinator research from the UK and USA and high profile arts researchers from the fields of aesthetics, perception and community arts. Important additions are linguists studying the language of environmental research and its affect on perceived values. The project leader Professor Andrea Liggins (University of Wales Trinity Saint David) has undertaken a number of science/art projects, most recently with Dr De Vere Head of Science and Conservation at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, who is an important participant and was instrumental in the development of this project. Professor Michael Christie’s (Aberystwyth University) expertise in the Valuation of Nature for Ecosystem Service Sustainability, will provide a further focus for the project.

A number of the representatives in policy making organisations are also involved, such as members of the Pollinator Taskforce Wales and the Intergovernmental Science -Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Co-I Christie has led a number of research projects involved in the economic evaluation of nature and bio-diversity and was PI for the NERC Valuing Nature Steering project. Further confirmed beneficiaries, who have been involved in the development of Cross- pollination include the Bumblebee Conservation Trust (Bee Wild project), BugLife, The Bee Garden at the National Botanic Garden of Wales (NBGW), Dr Beynon’s Bug Farm, and the Heart of Wales Line and Arriva Trains Wales 120 Miles of Garden project.

The day started with presentations about art/science collaborations from the perspective of firstly the artist and then the scientist. This was followed by 16 Pecha Kucha where each participant had 6 minutes and 40 seconds to describe their research, no easy task!

PechaKucha or Pecha Kucha (pronounced ‘pech-a-kee-shoe’ and is Japanese for ‘chit-chat’ ) is a presentation style in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format was conceived to keep presentations concise and fast-paced. Pecha Kucha has been used by artists and designers to view several presentations within a short time period.

This was followed by a speed-networking event (a little like speed-dating) where each scientist and artist had a chance to meet and discuss possible collaborative art projects for 15 mins.


The day finished with a meal at a local restaurant talking well into the evening.